MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Ramsey County libraries are starting off 2020 by eliminating late fees for children’s books and other materials.

The county says the change is to support early literacy and help close the achievement gap, noting that late fees on children’s books are a barrier for some families.

The new policy covers books and materials for children and teenagers. Customers are still expected to return books on time. The county says there will be an increase in the number of reminders to do so.

This change in late fee policy was approved last month by the Ramsey County Board of Commissioners. The 2020-2021 budget includes funds to cover the expected drop in income, which the county estimates to be around $160,000.

Fines will still be charged for lost or damaged items. Patrons will lose their library privileges if charges exceed $10.

Also on Jan. 1, the county waived existing charges for all patrons under 18. This was done to ensure that all young people in the county could use the new late fee-free system.